Some Strategies for Teaching English to Multi-level Adult ESL Learners: A Challenging Experience in Australia

| December 28, 2007
Some Strategies for Teaching English to Multi-level Adult ESL Learners: A Challenging Experience in Australia

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Pham Phu Quynh Na (Ph.D),
MTC Training Solutions, Australia

Bio Data
Pham Phu Quynh Na s teaching experience includes teaching English to Vietnamese and Korean university students at University of Social Sciences and Humanities of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for seven years, tutoring Singaporean students at National University of Singapore for two years, teaching Hong Kong and Korean teenagers/ students for EF Language Travel, ABC Study Groups, and some other colleges in Australia. She is now teaching ESL to adult learners at Sydney Community College and at MTC Training Solutions in Australia. She also worked as an educational writer and a professional translator in Australia. Her research interest include: Translation Studies, Vietnamese-English Translation, Error Corpus, Functional Grammar and its application in Vietnamese Language, Translation and Language Teaching.

The paper describes the experience of the author as an ESOL teacher in LLNP program (Language, Literacy and Numeracy Program) at MTC Training Solutions in Australia. LLNP is a program funded by the Australian government and Department of Education, Science and Training of Australia to assist newly-arrived immigrants with low level of English proficiency to adjust to Australian society or to find employment. MTC Training Solutions is a company offering English language training programs under this scheme. In these classes, most of the learners are funded to learn English over the period of 800 hours during the period of 2 years, divided into 5 blocks of 160 hours each. The text books required for this training program are Certificates of Spoken and Written English I, II and III (CSWE I, II and III). At the end of each 160-block, four assessment tests are required to show that the two macro-skills of each leaner have been increased. These assessment tests have to comply with the criteria set by National Reporting System of Australia. In these English classes, learners come from different corners of the world with different ethnic, socio-cultural and educational backgrounds. More than half of them are from Asian background (Taiwanese, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Indonesian Chinese), the remaining are mostly Lebanese, Sudanese, Turkish and Moroccan.

There is a huge discrepancy in the language proficiency levels of the learners. As new learners are admitted to the class at the beginning of every month, there are always learners at very different proficiency levels in the same class. The discrepancy is also broadened by the fact that each learner has two different macro-skills that need to be improved in each 160-hour block. Firstly, this paper aims to describe the types of problems that the learners tend to have in these multi-level classes regardless of the difference in their nationalities. The paper then explores how the trainers in these classrooms handle their lessons to attract the attention of the learners. Then it will suggest some strategies to successfully teach these learners, given the fact that they all have different language skills that need to be improved.


See pages 306-322

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 9 Issue 4